Anne-Marie finally drops debut album Speak Your Mind
It is almost two years ago that British hit sensation Anne-Marie stormed the charts for the first time. The pop artist launched her single ‘Alarm’ which became a success in her home country, but it wasn’t until she did some major collaborations, that she actually managed to get her name on the ‘next big thing’ radar internationally. She had a worldwide number 1 as the voice on Clean Bandit’s ‘Rockabye’ and launched ‘Ciao Adios’ on the back of this success. She seemed to sruggle slightly to keep the hits coming until Marshmello collaboration ‘Friends’ arrived. She is back on top of the charts so her team decided this was a good time to finally launch Speak Your Mind, Anne-Marie’s debut album!
With artists like Anne-Marie, who had their biggest hits with collaborations, the question arises if they actually have got what it takes as a pop star to do it on their own. Anne-Marie already showed us she does with the impeccable, attitude driven pop tracks ‘Alarm’ and ‘Ciao Adios’, but Speak Your Mind does not completely follow suit. The good news is that she delivers a solid and cohesive debut, but at the same time it does get samey after a while and is very much a product of its time as it follows existing trends.
The album opens with ‘Cry’, the track that is pushed on the New Music Friday playlists on Spotify, which sounds like it was recorded at a fairground with that little sample going on. It is a powerful pop track with a clear message to an ex lover who plays the part of the victim after their break up. Relatable queen! It is a shame that (promo) single ‘Then’ did not properly take off, because it is one of the best tracks on the record. The lyrics follow a similar pattern to ‘Cry’, where Anne-Marie reminds her ex of how good they were together and how she gave it her all ‘then’. It is one of the more stripped back and sincere moments where her vocal delivery is emotive and fragile yet powerful enough to convey the message that she is better off on her own.
Unfortunately, Anne-Marie does miss the mark lyrically here and there as well. ‘Perfect’ has all the best intentions, being a Jessie J type of self love anthem with a soulful sound and although I myself am a huge fan of ‘eating my body weight in chocolate and ice cream’, these lyrics do not cut it. The same goes for ‘Bad Girlfriend’ where she tries a little too hard to be ‘bad’ (girl, we already knew you were bad-ass from listening to ‘Alarm’, forgetting you’re partner’s birthday ain’t going to help with that). ‘Machine’ could have been one of the stand out tracks here with suspenseful verses, a beautiful melody in the chorus and an effective production, but then the lyrics about wanting to be a machine in order to not have any feelings, seem to have been born in a middle school project.
Luckily, for every slight miss, Anne-Marie has a potential hit ready for us. It would have helped her campaign if she had launched ‘Breathing Fire’ instead of ‘Heavy’, because it is a tune and a half! Her restrained, almost whispering delivery in the chorus is gorgeous and the tropical beat drop sounds reasonably fresh, as far as a beat drop still can these days. ‘Can I Get Your Number’ is another radio hit waiting to happen. The chorus is one of the strongest on the whole record and the lyrics about having to ask someone’s number because you know you will regret it if you don’t, are cute and relatable. New single ‘2002’ has the potential of becoming an early summer hit with its breezy sound, uplifting vibe and incredibly catchy chorus (we will forgive Anne-Marie and co-writer Ed Sheeran that none of the tracks they mention in the chorus were actually released in 2002). Last but not least ‘Peak’ deserves a mention, because Anne-Marie’s vocals absolutely shine on this pure piano ballad.
Anne-Marie delivered a more than decent debut album, which might not age well as the tropical bop trend is going to die down anytime soon. If she manages to turn her sound into something more timeless and lets the pop star persona we hear on at least of half of this record shine through all of her next material, Anne-Marie has the potential to become a household name in the pop industry.